This blog post is my very first as the guitarist for The Koffin Kats, and even though we’re only two shows into this short, two-week tour, I’m excited to report the happenings so far!
Our first show of the tour — and my first show on guitar! — was in St. Louis, Missouri on Saturday, March 8. The prior evening, I had developed a serious sinus infection while packing for the trip. I got up on Saturday morning at 5:45 AM, barely able to breath out of my nose and with severe pressure in my skull. I made and drank a cup of Bulletproof coffee, and went to the gym. I proceeded to do my full workout routine so I could push the sickness out of me, or so I hoped. After going back home and taking a hot shower, I said goodbye to my family and boarded the bus for our 9-hour drive to the St. Louis venue, Fubar.
After going through half a pack of facial tissues and several Airborne tablets, we arrived at Fubar. The venue has two rooms, and their bigger room was being used to host a metal show featuring Within The Ruins and Oceano. We got our gear set up and backlined, and I promptly headed to a back room to change my guitar strings and break them in. I also used the time to warm up my hands by doing chromatic scales and playing through all of the solos. The venue filled up quickly, and by the time we took the stage the place was filled to the brim.
We launched into the set and without any warning, the crowd…went…OFF. We had seen a few rowdy shows on our previous tour, and this one was already set to rival the top three from that particular outing. Fans were bowling over each other less than a foot from the stage; freshly opened beers were being whirled around in the air like towels at a Pittsburgh Steelers game; people were falling onto my effects pedalboard; most importantly, everyone was singing and shouting along with the songs! (I was told after the show that St. Louis is one of the first markets in which Koffin Kats established themselves early in their career, and these are some of the most dedicated and die-hard fans we have. Awesome.)
A few flubs aside (…goddamned lead solos…), our first show went really, really well. After wrapping up the set, I had several people come up to me to congratulate me on my performance. According to these folks, I not only lived up to expectations, but shattered them! I was pretty disappointed in my playing in regard to the solos, but they were very forthcoming with their praise, and insistent that things will only get better over time. Considering my sinus infection, and the fact that it was my first show as a lead guitarist EVER, I walked away satisfied and optimistic for the next gig.
Post-gig, we headed to our buddy Mitch’s house. Mitch plays in Benedict Arnold, one of the bands on the bill at Fubar and good friends of Koffin Kats. We stayed up into the wee hours of the morning, smoking and drinking…and eating amazing steaks that he had been marinating all day. After polishing off our STELLAR steaks (thanks, Mitch!), we adjourned to sleep out in the bus.
The sun up, we joined Mitch and his girlfriend in the house for morning coffee. I don’t know if it’s pure coincidence, but it seems like everyone we stay with while on the road owns a Keurig coffee maker. They are incredibly convenient, and thankfully, our friends have good taste in coffee, because I sure do, too.
After coffee and morning grooming, we left Mitch’s hospitality and departed for Joplin, Missouri. While we were home in Michigan we had some maintenance done on the bus at a local Ford dealership and a Midas location. The Ford dealership thought they could get one over on us and charge for two hours of labor on a half-hour job. Vic made sure to point out his vehicle repair knowledge and got the quote adjusted accordingly.
The first day on the road, we noticed a sound coming from the bus which led us to believe there was a leaking manifold or air intake. Our power felt sluggish, and going up hills was slow-going. So, on the way to Joplin, we finally stopped to check out the situation. It turned out that the Midas crew neglected to reattach the clamp for the turbo intake for the bus. Vic jumped in there and took care of the problem lickity-split. Screw you, lazy mechanics!!
Once we got the bus running at a tip-top level, I settled in for a nap. When I woke up, Vic and Eric had already begun loading our gear into the Joplin venue, Blackthorn. Blackthorn is a pizza pub, and immediately after load-in we were treated to a hot pizza with roast beef, green peppers, and Alfredo sauce. Oh, man, did it hit the spot. Once I was filled with pizza goodness, I took the time to set up my guitar rig, tune up, and get everything ready for transport to the stage.
After setting up, the bartender (Crash) treated me to his go-to cure for clearing out sinuses: a shot of vodka with scorpion pepper. I must say it worked well for long enough to get me through the show (which was shortened due to an unforeseen sound curfew).
The venue has a very small stage, and I had to set my rig up behind Eric in order to have room to get back there for a drum solo later in the show. Vic and I performed most of the set on the floor, and I took the liberty of walking and dancing around in the crowd while performing. It was fun, and we each agreed it went smoother than the previous night, which is the goal every night. Fans and friends were “highly impressed” with my performance, and told me I “fit right in”. Their kind words left me feeling really good. If only words could cure my sinus infection! Haha! (No, seriously. Sinus infections can suck it.)
Our good friends in Brutally Frank (Steve and Mel) allowed us to stay at their home for the entire time between our Joplin show and our upcoming show in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The night of the Blackthorn gig, we all hung out afterward doing the party thing, and I ended up crashing out on what would become my bed for the stay. I woke up on Monday morning feeling much better than I had the previous three days. Vic was kind enough to hook me up with wheat grass and his Bulletproof coffee ingredients to help knock out this sinus nonsense.
Monday is generally our one day off during the week, and we refer to it affectionately as “Management Monday”. We’re constantly brainstorming and strategizing while we’re on the road, and since we don’t have wi-fi in the bus, we make notes of everything we need to take care of and bang it all out (or most of it) each Monday. After accomplishing the tasks of the day, we joined our friends a few miles away for a wonderful dinner. The spread was fantastic: appetizers consisting of spinach dip, bruschetta, meatballs, and smoked sausage links; fried chicken and baked ribs for dinner, with mashed potatoes, macaroni and gravy; and for dessert . . . chocolates cheescake with chocolate mousse and chocolate chips. It was A.M.A.Z.I.N.G. Thanks Aaron and Amanda!
Just before dinner (and after drinking and uh…er…having a puff), I stepped outside to capture some photos of the gorgeous sunset taking place on the horizon. I “stopped to smell the roses”, even though my nose was still stuffed up. HA!
After thanking our friends for their generosity and saying our goodbyes, we went back to Steve and Mel’s and settled in to watch and “live tweet” a horror movie. We had announced that we were going to do this via our Facebook page, and the fans voted for us to watch Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil.
I had never seen the movie before and had no idea what to expect. Quite honestly, I don’t dig horror movies, mostly because they give me intense and very real-feeling nightmares. This one eschewed the gratuitous gore and psycho killers for more of a comedy-horror vibe. We laughed our asses off! Very funny movie, one that I would likely watch again after a puff or two. 😉
That brings us to today, Tuesday! We have the day off in Joplin, and it’s a beautiful 75-degree day. We just got back from picking up a new kick drum head for Eric, and now we’re firing up the grill to eat steaks!! Life is good.
I’ll leave you this week with the following picture of me teaching Eric how Twitter works (he’s a Twitter n00b), and taking a break to give Steve and Mel’s dog, Bruno the Boxer, some love:
Thanks for reading. See you next week!
John Kay is engaged in a ferocious battle with his sinuses, tempering his insatiable addiction to chocolate, and sneezing into his elbow pit so as not to infect others. Subscribe to The Real John Kay’s blog to receive an email whenever a new post occurs!
Wanna hear a sample of the music John Kay makes when he’s not on the road with The Koffin Kats??? Check out the first single “Dealing With People” from his upcoming debut solo album here.